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Business mentor, angel investor and speaker Mark Lyttleton is a certified Pranic Healer who takes a special interest in workplace wellbeing.
This article will share pointers on achieving a healthy and sustainable work-life balance, exploring how increased adoption of remote and hybrid working practices have, for many, culminated in a blurring of the line between their work and personal lives.
Striking the right work-life balance is about more than just having free time. Rather, it is about the individual having sufficient time to relax, which includes spending time with family and friends, resting, exercising and pursuing activities they enjoy.
In modern households with two adults working and children or other responsibilities to take care of, family members can find they have precious little free time for each other, particularly during the winter months when there are so few hours of daylight.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid working practices have been adopted by many companies. Although remote working means more time at home for workers, many found it had surprising consequences in terms of their work-life balance. Rather than improving it by enabling them to spend more time with their family, some workers found remote working actually made life more stressful, forcing them to juggle Zoom calls while others in the home demanded their attention.
For many, instead of the home being a welcome refuge it became an extension of the office, bringing with it all of the associated stresses – with the line between home and work increasingly blurred. Interruptions gradually crept into family routines, with parents checking their emails or taking calls during dinner and teleworkers toiling away into the night, long after their office-based colleagues went home.
In such circumstances, it is crucial for employees to create a system to ensure work and personal time are clearly defined and separated. This can be achieved by implementing a few simple, but strict, rules.
Remote workers need to prioritise tasks, tackling the most important jobs first. In doing so, they reduce the risk of falling behind and the temptation to keep ploughing away after hours. There are numerous free scheduling and planning tools available online to help with this, enabling remote workers to prioritise critical work and save easier, less urgent tasks for later.
Teleworkers should track the number of hours they work, ensuring they take adequate breaks. Establishing a routine, with set hours to focus on work, is far more productive than trying to juggle work and household tasks simultaneously.
Maintaining an ‘always on’ lifestyle, constantly working on tasks or checking emails, can be incredibly draining, leaving the worker at risk of burnout. It is important to establish clear boundaries between work and free time. Of course, exceptions and emergencies will crop up, but the worker must set boundaries to recognise when they are being crossed.
Remote workers in particular need to be strict about daily and weekly structure to avoid work spilling over into family time. Shutting down their work phone and PC helps workers to avoid the temptation of checking Microsoft Teams or Slack, preventing notifications from luring them away from their precious leisure time.
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